N$1bn more needed for Walvis port
10 March 2020 | Transport
Namport's funding needs were expressed in a letter to transport ministry executive director Willem Goeiemann by its acting CEO Kavin Harry last year.
In the letter, Harry outlines Namport's funding requirements to treasury over the medium expenditure framework period for 2020/20 to 2022/23.
This after Namport's N$4.2 billion investment for the construction of the container terminal facility.
“Larger container vessels calling at our ports necessitate significant capital investment to expand infrastructure to accommodate such vessels. The required dredging would require funding of approximately N$1 billion,” Harry wrote.
He outlined the challenges the port of Walvis Bay had securing new business in the submission to Goeiemann.
“Namport is under considerable pressure to accommodate larger vessels at the port of Walvis Bay. With shipping lines deploying their older vessels, their older scrapped vessels are cascaded to other ports, especially along the African coast,” he said.
According to Harry, while the new container terminal was able to accommodate large vessels, the entrance to the facility would need dredging.
“The port of Walvis Bay's new container terminal will be able to accommodate 5 700 TEU, however not the 9 000 TEU vessels because of the manoeuvrability of these vessels is constrained in terms of the width of the entrance channel,” Harry said.
He further outlined that Namport would need to acquire a new tug to manage the demand that would arise from the new strategic fuel storage facility. Namport currently only has two tugs in operation and the commencement at the fuel storage facility, at a date yet to be announced, is set to constrain its operations, Harry said. The acquisition of the tug would come at a cost of N$150 million.
“Namport only has two 60-ton tugs and this has a negative impact on the port's productivity levels whenever one of the tugs has a breakdown. There is a desperate need for acquisition of an additional tug at the port of Walvis Bay,” he further wrote.
Aside from requesting funding for dredging, Namport also outlined plans to spend a further N$50 million on the construction of a deep-water port at Lüderitz, saying that expansion of the use of that facility was constrained by limited depth.
“The port of Lüderitz is currently constrained by limited water depth of 8.15 metres. This water depth cannot easily be deepened due to the very hard bedrock in the current bay in which the port is located,” the letter read.
“The government is cordially requested to consider and approve the allocation of funding towards the upcoming projects,” he wrote.
When contacted for comment, Harry said the request is part of annual submission made by the public entity to government for funding purposes.
“The request was based on us widening the channel to accommodate larger sized vessels which are now being deployed by shipping lines in their continued drive to cut costs.”
Harry said it may not be necessary to spend the entire N$1 billion originally outlined and that government would not fund the entire construction of the widening of the channel if a final decision was made.
“We have since conducted simulation studies which habe given s new dimensions of possibly handling these large vessels without necessarily incurring that full cost and we are at an advanced stage of those plans,” Harry said.